A few years ago, we found out that Dwayne Johnson made a run at playing Jack Reacher in the Paramount Pictures adaptation of the recurring character from Lee Child‘s novels. Unfortunately, he got passed over for Tom Cruise, which felt a little weird since the character is supposed to be tall and buff, pretty much just like the wrestler formerly known as The Rock. Thankfully, it was a blessing in disguise, because it allowed Johnson to land a part in Fast Five, and it took his career to incredible new heights.

Below, get a little hindsight about the missed opportunity of Dwayne Johnson playing Jack Reacher from the actor himself.

Since we’re all under quarantine, celebrities have been biding some of their time by taking to social media for Q&A sessions with fans. The result has been some interesting revelations and pieces of trivia from behind the scenes of their careers. In a recent Facebook video session, Dwayne Johnson looked back at the time he was up for Jack Reacher, roughly 10 years ago. Johnson said:

“In Hollywood, actors are kind of like in-a-box. There are actors that can vie for a particular role because it allows for them to have a certain look, skin color, size, etc. Fortunately, for me, there aren’t a lot of guys at all who look like me. So, all of my roles, from the beginning of my career, I’ve been a lucky son of a bitch that they’ve been created and designed for me — except Jack Reacher.

What’s interesting about Johnson not getting the role is that Lee Child famously lamented the fact that they couldn’t find anyone who fit Jack Reacher’s description in the books. The author said:

“It was completely impossible to find a physical facsimile of Jack Reacher in Hollywood. There are none—not even remotely close. The people you think are 6-feet-five and 250 pounds are not. Most of them are at least seven or eight inches shorter than the fictional Reacher. It got to the point where people were saying, ‘What about this guy who’s nine inches shorter than Reacher? He’s better than this other guy who’s nine and a half inches shorter than Reacher.’”

Yet, here’s Dwayne Johnson, who is pretty much exactly those specifications. So why didn’t he get the role? Well, as Johnson admits, he wasn’t quite the movie star 10 years ago that he is right now. The actor said:

“This was 10 years ago, and I was in a much different place, I recognize that,” explained Johnson, “Tom was the biggest movie star in the world, and I was not. I got the call saying ‘Hey, you didn’t get the role’ Look, I didn’t even know if I had a shot for it, but the people around me at that time made me think that I did. I felt like I did, I felt like ‘Why not me?'”

Thankfully, someone else wanted Dwayne Johnson, and it was Universal Pictures. After being passed over for Jack Reacher, Johnson got an offer to take a supporting role in Fast Five. The actor even decided to take less money for that role, knowing that if this character was a hit in the sequel, that more money would follow. Lo and behold, Johnson became franchise viagra and reinvigorated Fast and Furious.

In retrospect, this was probably the best thing for Dwayne Johnson. The actor himself even said:

“I’m positive that the role of Jack Reacher, because it was an established character, an IP that was well known and beloved around the world, that I wouldn’t have had the creative space to do what I wanted with the character. I look back in gratitude that I didn’t get Jack Reacher.”

It just goes to show you that sometimes what feels like a big missed opportunity is actually just a chance for you to take advantage of something else. Ten years later, Dwayne Johnson is one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Maybe he can play Jack Reacher in the inevitable reboot?

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